“AND there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
Either in speaking or writing upon these wonderful things in the book of Revelation it should always be remembered that they were shown John for the benefit of the people of God, and while the sayings generally are dark, there are some things clear, and these can be considered the same as any other Scripture. Two or three chapters preceding the twenty-first, and the one following, all seem peculiarly connected, beginning with the conjunction “and,” which shows a continuation of the revelation to John. In the twentieth chapter the victory of the saints, through death, over their enemies and the enemies of the cross of Christ, is shown; also the fleeing away of the old heaven and the old earth and the appearing of the new. The great white throne and He that sat upon it established forever the reign and judgment of God. The binding of Satan for a season simply means that the church should have peace and quietness for awhile, and the loosing of Satan after that season, represented by the term, “a thousand years,” means that the church should again have tribulation and persecution at the hands of other religious monarchs and those who had their mark – “mark of the beast.” In the twenty-first chapter John describes the new Jerusalem as he, in vision, saw it descending from God out of heaven. Here is seen the marked contrast between old Jerusalem, which Paul says was represented by Agar, the bondwoman, and her children, and new Jerusalem. The bondwoman was in bondage with her children; that is, all were in bondage together, which of course could not have been otherwise, as a bondwoman cannot bring forth free children. Hence old Jerusalem was in every sense of the word of the earth, and all that pertained to her was carnal. It is worthy of special note that old Jerusalem never became the new – the bondwoman and her children never became the freewoman. All through this revelation John was being shown the passing away forever of things pertaining to the legal dispensation and the bringing in of spiritual, heavenly and divine things – things that abide, durable, everlasting. Therefore he tells us he saw new Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. This is the opposite of that which was all of the earth, earthy. Could we all behold the sight as John beheld it, how convincing it would be that all things are become new, and that all things are of God, who hath reconciled us unto himself by the death of his Son. Yet John was only a looker on – no part whatever of the holy city in his own view or feelings. In this surely we all have fellowship with him. In this tabernacle of God all tears are wiped away; there is no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, because former things are passed away. This is now a time of rejoicing, a time of gladness of heart, a time to bless and praise God from whom all blessings flow, for surely he hath done great things for us.
In verse nine of this twenty-first chapter John says an angel came and talked with him, saying, “Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife,” and he carried him away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed him that great city, the holy Jerusalem, having the glory of God. We do not understand that John meant the angel carried him bodily or led him by the hand to the great and high mountain, but that in spirit John was carried away, forgetting self, surroundings, the desolation of the isle of Patmos and the persecution of the enemies of Christ; mortality swallowed up of life, as it were, in the revelation of the glory of God. Perhaps there are some who may read this that can well remember such times, when there was a refreshing season from the presence of the Lord, an outpouring of that Holy Ghost, a carrying away in the spirit to the great and high mountain of the Lord, thereto behold his glory in the holy city. The city that John saw had a great and high wall, and twelve gates. In this part of New York State there are perhaps miles of what is called stonewall, stones gathered from the land by those long gone the way of all flesh, and placed one upon another about four feet high and two feet wide, yet it is not a wall at all, only a fence. To build a wall cement or mortar must be used, in order to cause the stones to cleave together, so that when the work is done the wall is, as it were, one body. Such was the wall John saw. In olden times cities had walls round about them for protection, and the safety of such cities depended upon the strength of their walls. So this holy city has a wall great and high; salvation for walls and bulwarks God hath appointed, hence the safety of new Jerusalem, the bride, the Lamb’s wife, is absolute. So high it is that it cannot be scaled; so compact that no natural eye can penetrate it; so strong that the arch-enemy with all his angels cannot batter it down. This is the kind of wall round about the city of God, and he is the glory in the midst. The twelve gates, three on either side of this four-square city, are for the entrance of those who keep the commandments of the King. They have right to the Tree of life, and enter in through the gates into the city, in which there is no need of the sun, neither of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God and the Lamb is the light thereof. When the Lord says to the north, Give up, and to the south, Keep not back; bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth, there is no need of a journey by those called from either point of the compass, because the entrance is immediately in front of them – three gates on either side. Yes, they enter this city where there is but one street, and that pure gold, in perfect keeping with the holy city. Now, inasmuch as this city is holy, there shall in no wise enter into it anything unholy. Nothing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, shall enter this place of perfection of beauty. Perhaps there is a twofold meaning here worthy of our consideration. When it says, In no wise shall anything enter that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination it appears that everything in the way of inventions of men is excluded. The Lord’s train fills the temple, so that there is no room for “Judson’s” train saved by him, nor is there place for any saved except by the blood of the Lamb, who is the temple of it, and the glory is his. No works of the creature shall ever be mentioned in the city of God, much less enter there. An ungodly man must be justified, guilt removed; the liar must have his lips touched with a live coal from off the altar, the sinner made clean before he can enter the holy city; every one entering there must be in perfect keeping with the holy place. By nature and by works, therefore, all men are cut off; not one can enter simply because Abraham was his father, nor because his father and mother were christians, nor because he may pray twice a day and give alms of all he possesses. A man must be “a new creature,” “God’s workmanship,” a partaker of the divine nature, a son of God, in order to enter the place where God’s honor dwells. All such have their names written in the Lamb’s book of life. These names were written before the foundation of the world – not one written since. This most wonderfully presents election, salvation by grace, yes, God’s unmerited favor. The book of life is a peculiar one, not such as where ordinary records are made and kept, but the book is “life”. The names of all the household of faith are written in God’s record of “life,” eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before the world began, and this life is in his Son. When Paul said the Lord, the righteous Judge, should give him a crown of righteousness, he did not mean a crown of something else, but “righteousness” itself was the crown he received. Again, when James said, Blessed is the man that endureth temptation, for when he is tried he shall receive a crown of life, life is the crown. This means life to the one who endures temptation, instead of death because of sin in yielding thereto. Yes, we say again the book is “life,” and the names of the Lord’s people having been written therein shows clearly His decree: predestinated unto final glory by Jesus Christ our Lord. It matters not what our achievements and attainments are here, nor how wonderful the revelations nor that the devils are subject unto us, through God’s word, our greatest reason for rejoicing is that our names are written in heaven, in the Lamb’s book of life. This unbounded mercy will cause us to ever sing in the holy city, the church of God, “redeeming love,” and when called home to enjoy the fullness of the glory of God, that infinite Being: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, there to see Him face to face, the song shall echo still: “Saved by grace.” Amen. K.
Elder H. C. Ker
Signs of the Times
Volume 82, No. 9
May 1, 1914